If you’ve been following me for a while, then you likely know that I was a victim of diet culture for probably half of my life.
And if you’re reading this post right now, I’m guessing you’ve been a victim at some point too, or maybe you still are.
If you’re unfamiliar with what diet culture is, here’s a quick definition:
“Diet culture is a society that places value on being a certain size, weight, and shape over actual health. Diet culture also promotes the false notion that health is equal to thinness.”
Hopefully after reading this post you will see how messed up diet culture really is and be motivated and excited to start living your life on your own terms again.
Let’s jump right in shall we?
5 Ways Diet Culture Robs You of Your Happiness
1. It consumes your life
Before you know it, your time, your energy, your thoughts, your actions and your behaviours are all dictated by one thing:
HOW DO I LOOK?
When the media, your doctor, your close friends and your family members are all evaluating your worth based on your appearance, it’s hard not to let your weight be at the forefront of your mind.
But does how you look really tell you anything about how you’re feeling? Or how healthy you are?
Maybe. But probably not.
I remember when I was at my thinnest and “fittest,” I was praised by so many people on how great I looked and that I must be so “healthy”. Meanwhile, I was not healthy at all and I was obsessed with working out and eating the least amount possible of the “healthiest” foods possible. I was miserable. There was always something I had to “fix” about myself or something I had to improve.
I was never happy; I was obsessed with being perfect when perfection did not exist.
2. It makes you question yourself
Like, on the reg! How do I look? Does this outfit make me look fat? Should I be wearing this when my body is this size? Am I thin/fit/sexy enough to have this job/get this opportunity/be married to this man/have these friends? Will people take me seriously at this size? Am I worthy of anything at this size?
And the worst part is, it doesn’t matter what size you are!!! You could be a size 0 or a size 30 and you would still be asking yourself these questions.
For so long I was self-conscious and lacked confidence because I put all of my worth into my appearance (which I was never happy with).
But our appearance should have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with what we can and cannot get out of life. Decide what you want and go for it. Don’t hold yourself back because your body doesn’t fit into the 1% of those with the “ideal” body type. Life will pass you by before you know it and you’ll regret not taking those chances or believing in yourself.
3. It can ruin relationships
With yourself, your friends, your spouse or your family. When your thoughts are consumed with diets, exercise and how you look, the first thing to go are social events because they might compromise all of your hard work. Those can include dinner and drinks with friends, holiday family gatherings, vacations or date nights with your partner.
Even if you do attend these events, instead of enjoying the company of others, experiencing new things and getting into truly meaningful conversations, you’ll be too worried about what you can or cannot eat. Or how much exercise you’ll have to do tomorrow to burn it off. Talk about a buzzkill right?
Then there’s the whole loss of sex drive thing that happens when you’re chronically under-fueled. And the last time I checked that didn’t help a relationship thrive.
And lastly, you can beat yourself up so bad for not working hard enough, being “good” enough or for eating too much or not exercising enough that you end up hating yourself.
This sounds like the perfect time to pitch you a new weight loss strategy that “really works!”
4. It sets you up for failure
Every time. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Our bodies are not meant to live in deprivation. When we restrict, it is our BIOLOGICAL nature to need to binge afterward. It’s how we survived when food was scarce.
So it makes sense that depriving yourself of a certain food or food type will only make you think about it constantly and want it even more than if you had just eaten it in the first place. Eventually you will give in and when you do, you won’t be able to control yourself. There’s a reason people who go on fad diets end up gaining more weight after they go off of them.
The only way to truly have a healthy relationship with food is to reject all diet culture. I know that sounds impossible right? After years of being fed weight-loss information, fad diets, and being told that thin=health, how do you just forget it all?
At the beginning, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and you’ll need to find supportive people to help you. But eventually you and your body will heal your relationship and you’ll be in a good place health and weight-wise that’s appropriate for your body.
Easier said than done right? That’s why we need to ask for help and learn to trust our bodies; they are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.
5. It steals the joy from the important moments in your life
Your wedding, your prom, your first kiss, the day after you gave birth, your last birthday party, your family barbecue, the last dinner you had out with your partner, your child’s school play, your family vacations. I bet you were concerned about how you looked in every one of these situations. And it’s ok if you were – that’s diet culture for ya.
I could never just enjoy the moment for what it was. It had to be about how I looked. If I didn’t like my outfit, or my hair or felt “fat” (which isn’t a feeling by the way) then I didn’t enjoy myself.
My happiness in every moment was solely based on my appearance. And my appearance would never, ever be good enough for me when I was a victim of diet culture.
So are you starting to see what I’m getting at? Diet culture will rob you blind of all the joy in your life. It will steal those little moments and the big ones too.
Don’t let it.
Ignore what the media says we need to look like in order to be healthy and happy. Because it’s not true.
Letting diet culture dictate how you live your life is the same thing as letting a stranger tell you what’s best for you and your body.
It doesn’t make sense. The only thing diet culture is going to do for you is tear you down and make you buy something to try and pick yourself back up only to tear you down again, and again.
Choose yourself next time. Choose to be happy, confident and beautiful on your own terms. Choose to be present in your life and choose to love yourself the way you are.